Inter-generational transitions in socio-technical systems: The case of mobile communications
Many technology studies have conceptualized transitions between technological generations as a series of S-curve performance improvements over time. Surprisingly, the interregnum between successive generations has received little attention. To understand what happens in the interregnum, we study the transition from 2G to 3G in mobile communications. Our study identifies the presence of forces for both change and continuity across heterogeneous social and technical elements shaping an uneven transition between 2G and 3G mobile communications technology platforms. Unanticipated misalignments and asynchronies that emerged during the journey shifted the incentives of the various actors involved to participate. Based on these observations, we offer several conjectures as to the dynamics that can give rise to temporal discords during inter-generational technological transitions.
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